Arsenal can take a stride toward reclaiming the Premier League title by defeating Manchester United in a top-of-the-table clash today.
The two sides are level on points at the top of the table but Arsenal's game in hand means a six-point advantage would be within their grasp if they can overcome the champions at the Emirates Stadium.
Having won both Premier League encounters with United last season and put together a 17-match unbeaten run in all competitions in the current campaign, Arsene Wenger's men will not be short of confidence that they can claim all three points.
But United are in equally bullish mood, having hit the net four times in each of their last four matches and the likes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and new boy Carlos Tevez all running into form.
Nothing will be decided today but the outcome will have important pyschological repercussions for the rest of the campaign and United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes the match has come at the right time for his squad.
"Everything is coming together, as I thought it would, and in good time to take on Arsenal in what could be a key match in our title defense," he said.
"It's still an open race but Arsenal have had a great start and they're the ones we are chasing at the moment. The main thing is I know we will chase them with great fervor and determination," Ferguson said.
Arsenal's early season run has established them as serious title contenders and Ferguson expects them to stay the course.
"I know challenging for a title is a new experience for a lot of their players, but some of them have been there before and the manager has, and that is a big help," he said.
Powered by a revitalized Frank Lampard, Chelsea are looking strong and will expect to continue their winning run at the expense of Wigan today. Chris Hutchings' struggling side have lost five games on the trot and not won in any competition since beating Sunderland 3-0 on Aug. 18.
Liverpool face a tough test away to Blackburn, who will be bidding for an eighth consecutive win in all competitions.
Rafael Benitez's team have won just twice in their last six Premiership matches and the Spaniard underlined the importance of neutralizing the threat posed by Blackburn's strike force of Benni McCarthy and Roque Santa Cruz.
"Mark Hughes is doing a very good job and the understanding between the players and the strikers is very good. They are playing nice, good football and winning games," Benitez said.
New Tottenham boss Juande Ramos begins his bid to haul the club out of the relegation zone with a trip to Middlesbrough.
Elsewhere today, bottom side Derby travel to Aston Villa, Everton host Birmingham and Portsmouth go to Newcastle.